News and Views

New Knocknaheeny school opening 'an historic event for education’

5 Sep 2019
UCC Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin and Hilary Ní Chonchubhair, coordinator of the Irish programme in Gaelcholáiste Thraolaigh Mhic Shuibhne, pictured with pupils. Photo: Clare Keogh.

A new Irish-speaking school in the Knocknaheeny area of Cork city, supported by UCC in its development, made history this week as it welcomed its first intake of 10 students.

School Principal, Phil O’Flynn, and the Board of Terence MacSwiney Community College, to which the new Gaelcholáiste Thraolaigh Mhic Shuibhne is attached, have surmounted many challenges in establishing the new state-of-the-art educational facility in an area of Cork’s northside known for experiencing high levels of social deprivation.

Professor Pádraig Ó Macháin at the Department of Modern Irish at UCC, which has supported the founding of the school for the past few years, said: “Education is a human right irrespective of social class or background, and if the parents of Knocknaheeny and its neighbourhood wish to have their children educated through the medium of Irish, then the absolute least that we can do is place our facilities at their disposal.”

Over the past year, the teachers of Knocknaheeny have been attending weekly night classes in Irish in UCC, delivered by the Irish Department’s special advisor on second-level education, Seán Ó Broin, and sponsored by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta (COGG).

The classes will continue as the school grows. Also, Irish-speaking UCC students, who have helped at sports days as Gaeilge in Knocknaheeny, have committed to helping in reading clubs with the pupils.

“Phil O’Flynn (the Principal) is a true leader and visionary,” said Ó Macháin. “She and her wonderful staff are beacons of an infectious positivity and forward-thinking – true heroes. This opening will be an historic event for education in Cork.”

The newly enrolled pupils were presented with iPads, donated by the new Gaelcholáiste’s neighbour Apple, at an event in UCC earlier this year, and the company has also provided training and support for coding classes in Irish.

“Knocknaheeny and Hollyhill were country areas within living memory,” said Ó Macháin, “and in earlier times they were part of a wider area where the Irish language was spoken, where poetry was composed and where Irish manuscripts were written.

“In a sense, all that is happening here is that the people are reclaiming their Gaelic heritage and doing it for themselves. It is a privilege for UCC to be able to play a small part in that.”

For more on this story contact:

Lynne Nolan, Media & PR Officer, UCC: 087 210 1119, lynne.nolan@ucc.ie

University College Cork

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